Can a smart watch detect heart problems or infarctions?

Measurement station on the wrist: Many smartwatches record your heart rate and even create simple ECGs. Can heart patients recognize so quickly when things get dangerous?

How reliable are smartwatches when it comes to detecting serious heart problems? © Adobe Stock

It might sound tempting to people with heart conditions: a wristwatch that notices something is wrong with the heart.

Wearable devices now have many functions with which the state of the cardiovascular system can be recorded – for example by measuring heart rate or simple ECG.

Serious diseases usually do not show up on measurement

According to the German Heart Foundation, the devices have their limits – especially when it comes to detecting serious diseases. Therefore, a specialist is always needed to classify the data and, if necessary, initiate further examinations.

What can smart watches do? Is this enough?

  • Pulse measurement: Wearable devices use infrared light to create a pulse analysis. This provides information about your heart rate and can therefore help detect and document arrhythmias. The reliability of smartwatches when measuring heart rate is more than 90 percent, thus matching the measurement accuracy of a chest strap measurement, according to cardiologist Thomas Meinertz of the scientific advisory board of the German Heart Foundation.
  • However: In order not to falsify the measurement results, the sensor and wrist must be clean. In addition, the watch should be close to the skin.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): To create a single-wire electrocardiogram, the watch measures the electrical impulses of the heartbeat. This is usually done by pressing the sensor and waiting for 30 seconds. A single-channel electrocardiogram is more straightforward than pure pulsemetry when it comes to arrhythmias.
  • indeed You shouldn’t rely on that aloneMeinertz warns. Because: circulatory disturbances in the myocardium, for example, cannot be recorded with a single-channel electrocardiogram. “Therefore, neither the Apple Watch nor other smartwatches are suitable for detecting a heart attack or malignant arrhythmia,” says Meinertz.
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In general, if you have severe chest pain that indicates a heart attack, you should not be on the smartwatch. Precious time is wasted in an emergency situation.

The best thing you can do in such a situation is to call the emergency number 112 directly – and rely on the judgment of medical professionals.



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